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Williamstown, An Historic 

Village 



BY 
MISS JANET CARNOCHAN 






Reprinted from Ontario Histoiical Society Papers and Records, Vol. XVII, 



' \ 



The EDITH and LORNE PIERCE 
COLLECTION of CANADIANA 




Queen's University at Kingston 



WILLIAMSTOWN, AN HISTORIC VILLAGE. 

By Miss Janet Carnochan. 

Although I had spent some weeks in this little village many years ago, I 
had no idea till lately that it was such a wonderful village, with such a re- 
markable history, with no larger a population than two hundred, a little river 
running through the midst, the people of different races, — Scottish and French 
speaking different languages. — English, Gaelic, French; of two different 
religions, — Presbyterian and Roman Catholic; with traces of Sir John John- 
son, of his father Sir William Johnson, of Lord Selkirk, of Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie, of David Thompson, of Simon Eraser, these great geographers and 
explorers, of Bishop Macdonell, of Bishop Bethune and his venerable father, 
Rev. John Bethune, of XJ. E. Loyalists, of Hudson Bay factors, of the North- 
west Company, of soldiers who had fought in the Revolutionary war and in dis- 
tant countries, a village with an endowed church, an endowed High School, a 
church built in 1812, the manse in 1823, the first manse built about 1787, or 
shortly after 1787, when Rev. John Bethune came. A centenary of the settle- 
ment of the County of Glengarry was held in 1884, when many interesting 
reminiscences were printed in the Montreal Witness, and many relics of the 
early days were Bhewn. A centenary of the building of the present church was 
held in 1912, and my friends, who know that I always uphold the name of 
Niagara, wondered much to hear me say that the centenary celebration held in 
Williamstown was far ahead of either St. Mark's or St. Andrew's in Niagara 
in 1802 and 189! respectively. And it is true, for the celebration lasted a 
week instead of three days, and besides being the centenary of flic church was 
also ilia! of the V. E. Loyalists. Many distinguished sons of Williamstown 
came from distanl homes to -peak: many valuable gifts were donated to the 
church by loving and loyal members. 

And first, of how Williamstown received the name. When the United 
Empire Loyalists, or those who remained loyal to the king and British Insti- 
tutions, left their possessions and came to what was then a wilderness, the 
British government, to partly compensate them for their losses, gave them 
grants of land. Sir John Johnson, who was the largest land owner in the 
American colonies, fled to save his life, with some faithful followers, through 
frightful dangers. \h' was given large grants of land, and perhaps the selec- 
tion of the Bite was from its position on the "River "Raisin, being suitable for 
mills from the water power, and the place was at first called Milltown. The 
inhabitants wished to call it Johnstown from Sir John Johnson, but he 
declined the honour, and wished it called Williamstown from his father, Sir 
William Johnson. The Manor House, still standing, was the property of Sir 
John Johnson : the centre part was built in his time, but additions were made 
later. He parted with his Williamstown property in 1821. 

3 



So much for the name, but whence came those early settlers, and how and 
why? I have always found the story of those who came out with Bishop 
Macdonell very confusing, as sometimes they are spoken of as soldiers from 
Scotland, again as a regiment from Ireland, and again as those ejected from 
lands in Scotland. Another statement is that they were U. E. Loyalists; 
another as Hudson Bay Factors, or from the North West Company. And 
remarkable to say, these statements are true of the different settlers coming 
at different times from different places. The best explanation was given by 
Bishop Macdonell himself, that wonderful man with the ability of a business 
man, the tact and skill of a diplomat, the piety of a soldier of the cross, in an 
address at a farewell dinner given to him at Kingston in 1838, where he told 
of his efforts for those of his own. faith. But the people of Glengarry were not 
all Catholics from Scotland. It is rather difficult to sort out all the different 
groups which came. The Protestant Highlanders who came to South Caro- 
lina in 1772 form the first emigration from Scotland, and when trouble arose 
a ship load left for Prince Edward island, but afterward came to Nova Scotia, 
and in 1774, on the breaking out of hostilities, formed the 84th Eegiment, of 
which Rev. Jno. Bethune became the Chaplain, and many received grants of 
land in Glengarry. This formed one group. 

The 2nd of Highlanders, chiefly Macdonells, at the invitation of Sir 
William Johnson, came to the Mohawk Valley in 1773% When war broke out, 
Sir John Johnson with friends and neighbours, fled to Montreal through 
dangers dire, in 1776. He raised a battalion at his old home in Tryon County, 
among his followers, and called it the King's Eoyal Regiment of New York, 
and they and their families came to Canada in 1783. 

3rd. The first emigrants who came direct from Scotland came in 1786 
under Alexander Macdonald, 520 in number. 4th. In 1792, Macdonell of 
Greenfield came from Scotland with followers. 5th. In 1803 the last large 
emigration came through Bishop Macdonell, the discharged soldiers of the 
First Glengarry Fencibles under Macdonell of Glengarry, and these had been 
under the charge of Alexander Macdonell, afterwards Bishop Macdonell. 

To explain why so many left Scotland is a sad story. From 1782 to 1790, 
tenants were turned out to make room for large sheep farms, and when these 
tried to emigrate, all sorts of restrictions were used to prevent them, even 
ships of war guarded the harbours to board emigrant vessels and press into the 
Naval Service every able-bodied man. In spite of this, many came with their 
families. In 1784, land surveyors arrived, lots were drawn, and the name 
Glengarry given to the county from Glengarry in Scotland. 

The material for this paper I have gained from many sources. From 
the pamphlet giving an account of the Centenary Celebration of St. Andrew's 
Chnreh, Williamstown, I have learned much; from " A Retrospect of the first- 
Catholic Diocese of Upper Canada " much has been gleaned ; in a paper read 
bv Mrs. Foran before the Women's Canadian Historical Societv of Ottawa. 
(Transactions of that Society, Vol. VII, 1917), "M v native County— Glen- 
carry," many interesting facts were found. In an old copv of the Montreal 
Witness, headed " Lochiel," the celebration in 1884 of the settlement of 
Glengarry, most interesting accounts were given of the early settlers, pictures 
of relics exhibited, anecdotes grave and gay, and names of clans represented. 
In all these articles the two most outstanding persons are Rev. John Bethune 
and the Rev. Alexander Macdonell, both staunch Scots, with all the best 
qualities common to the race, as the military phrase we have so often heard 



5 

of late — " carrying out the best traditions of the army." And they both, we 
may say like St. Paul, u fought with beasts at Ephesus." Both were clergy- 
men, but of different faiths, stalwart supporters of the same, yet tolerant to 
others, loved and admired by their people, and the public generally. To give 
the story of Williamstown much must be told of the former and incidentally 
of the latter, but the account of the centenary touches on almost every point 
of the history of the settlement. The celebration was from August 25th to 
September 2nd, including services on two Sundays, the intervening days being 
given to addresses by prominent speakers and distinguished and loyal sons of 
Glengarry who had come from distant points to do honour to their birthplace. 
The Kev. John Bethune was born on the Island of Skye in 1751 of a family 
tracing their descent as far back as the Norman Conquest. Cardinal Beaton 
was of the same family. ' He went to South Carolina and was the chaplain 
of a regiment there, but in the first years of the Revolutionary War was made 
a prisoner and suffered much for his loyalty. Being exchanged he came to 
Nova Scotia and there organized a regiment, the 84th or Royal Highland 
Emigrant Regiment of which he became the Chaplain of the First Battalion. 
When that was disbanded he organized a congregation in Montreal, — St. 
Gabriel's church, in which he preached May Oth, 1 7 S 7 . His grant of land as 
an officer in the army being in Glengarry, he removed to Williamstown. 
then the leading settlement, and laid the foundation of the Church, also of 
congregations in Cornwall. Martintowii and Lancaster, and was the first Pres- 
byterian minister in Upper Canada. It is told of him that he performed £379 
baptisms in this district, and musl have been a good organizer as his records, 
all in good shape, -how. Two of his sons became Anglicans, one the second 
Bishop of Toronto, the other Dean of Montreal. The inscription on his 
monument by hi- blx sons attests hi- fine character. A remarkable tribute 
was paid to him by Ino. A. Etfacdonald, ELC. " I am not. as yon know, of your 
nli-ion. I am a Catholic, a- ray people have ever been, but I may say with no 
impropriety thai Mr. Bethune was a faithful and zealous missionary, and to 
this day the fruit- of In- vigour and efficiency remain; indeed the epitaph of 
Sir Christopher Wren in St. Paul's Cathedral might, in Williamstown. he well 
applied to Mi'. Bethune Si monumentum requiris circumspice, (If you seek 
hi- monument look around.) 

The inscription on his monumenl in the cemetery is creditable alike to 
the father and his sons : thus — 

"Sacred to the memory of the Rev. John Bethune, pastor of the con- 
gregation of the Kirk of Scotland in Glengarry, lie departed this life at 
Williamstown, 23fd September. 1815, in the 66th year of his age and the I 1th 
of his ministry. 

"That he was a faithful steward, the peace and Happiness of his flock 
are the mosl certain proof. Thai he was eminently endeared by those con- 
ciliating, endearing qualities which united Society in the closest bonds of 
unanimity and friendship, his numerous congregation who -lied the tribute of 
unfeigned sorrow- over his grave have borne the mosl honourable testimony. 

"That be was open, generous and sincere, those who participated in bis 
friend-hip can afford the mosl satisfactory evidence. 

"That he was a kind and affectionate husband, a tender and indulgent 
parent, the love and unanimity of his numerous family furnish the most unde- 
niable proof. 



" This monument is erected as a mark of filial affection to his memor}' 
by his six sons, Angus, Norman, John, James, Alexander, Donald." 

A very remarkable document is the Pastoral Letter directed to his congre- 
gation a few days before his death, in which he urges them strongly, as he had 
done before, to look out for a successor to himself as he feels his health failing. 
Very plain language is used in the advice given with regard to finances, to the 
choice of a minister, to the manner of conducting their meetings, all shewing 
the good common sense, the fervent piety, the wish for their spiritual 
prosperity. 

The next minister was the Rev. Jno. Mackenzie, M.A., a native of Fort 
Augustus, Scotland,who remained with them for thirty-seven years. He too 
was a loyal subject, as in the Papineau Rebellion, the men of Glengarry were 
called out, and Mr. Mackenzie was with his people at the front. The next 
minister was the Rev. Peter Watson, a native of Inverness, Scotland. He too 
was a faithful and eloquent pastor, succeeded by*Rev. Alexander MacGillivray, 
D.D., their first Canadian born minister, 1877 — 1888. The present pastor, 
Rev. Arpad Govan, B.A., has served from 1888, to the present time, a period of 
thirty-one years. St. Andrew's has been very fortunate in its ministers ; in a 
period of 132 years there have been only five ministers, an average of over 
twenty-six years for each. It is not likely that any other congregation can 
furnish a parallel. 

To Bishop Macdonell we now turn. Many tributes have been paid, alike 
by Catholics and Protestants, the most remarkable perhaps being that by the 
Orangemen. Born in Inverness-shire in 1760, educated partly in Paris and 
also in Spain, he did noble work in Scotland, in Ireland, in Canada, and died 
in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1840 at the age of eighty. His was a long life full 
of strenuous work, first for the tenants ejected from their homes, obtaining 
employment for them in Glasgow, then forming them into a Highland 
regiment, the first Catholic one formed, remaining with them in Guernsey and 
Ireland eight years, next procuring land for them in Canada, with much 
trouble obtaining 160,000 acres of land, next for his church. On his arrival 
he found only two Roman Catholic clergymen in Upper Canada and only two 
wooden churches and one stone one. He travelled from one end of the prov- 
ince to the other, on foot, or on horseback, in canoe or rough waggon, without 
roads or bridges. In the war of 1812 he formed the Second Glengarry Fen- 
cible Regiment. Next he repaired to England twice, as he had on former 
occasions, this time to obtain help to build churches, and pay salaries; this 
with much delay and trouble he obtained. In his address to the Catholic and 
Protestant freeholders he says " I address my Protestant, as well as my Cath- 
olic friends, because I feel assured that through the long period of four and 
forty years intercourse with some of you, and two and thirty years with others, 
no man will say that in promoting your temporal interests I ever made any 
difference between Catholic and Protestant and indeed it would be both unjust 
and ungrateful in me if I did, for I found Protestants upon all occasions as 
ready to meet my wishes and second my efforts to promote the public good as 
the Catholics themselves, and it is with no small gratification that I here 
acknowledge having received from Orangemen unequivocal and substantial 
proofs of disinterested friendship and generosity of heart." 

At the centenary of Glengarry in 1884 it was told of him that he had 
sometimes been called in to the dying beds of Protestants whose minister could 
not be procured. Many a fervent prayer in his own loved Gaelic he offered, 



and he had been heard to declare that he knew many good Protestant prayers. 
Mr. Bethune too, was sometimes called in to a Catholic bedside in a similar 
emergency. 

The address of Bishop Macdonell given at the farewell dinner to him in 
Kingston in 1838, explains clearly what seemed to be contradictory statements. 
He says " The only claim I have to the good will of my countrymen was the 
warm interest I took in the welfare of a great number of poor Highlanders 
who were ejected by their landlords before the close of the last century, and 
they and their families set adrift in the world. These poor people to the num- 
ber of several hundreds I conducted to Glasgow and procured employment for 
them in the manufactories where 1 remained with them myself till in conse- 
quence of the French Revolution, and the stagnation of trade on the continent, 
the manufactories were ruined and the Highlanders thrown out of employ- 
ment. It was then that I represented their condition to the Government, got 
them embodied into a Feneible Corps, and accompanied them myself to the 
Island of Guernsey, and to Ireland, and attended them for the period of eight 
years till they with all the other Scottish Fencibles were disbanded in 1802. 
Seeing them thus a third time set adrift without home or habitation I applied 
to Government and obtained lands for them in Canada, came with them my- 
self and resided with them in the County of Glengarry for twenty-five years. r 

Bishop Macdonell had thus travelled twice to London in the interest of 
his people, first to consult with Dundas, Secretary of War. to form the Glen- 
garry Regiment, and second to consult with Premier Addington as to obtain- 
ing land in Canada, and his influence gained his request in each case. His 
modest statement tells nothing of the difficulties he met with in these journeys, 
nor of his patience and perseverance in urging the claims of his people. 

A tribute paid to him in the obituary notice in the British Whig of 
Kingston was this: ** Hi< loyalty to the British Grown was never surpassed; 
by word and deed he proved how sincere was his attachment to British 
institutions, and he infused into the hearts of hi- fellow countrymen and others 
an equal enthusiasm/ 5 The tribute of .1. A. Macdonell K.G., will be a fitting 
close: "The business capacity of this extraordinary man distinguished him 
who was a mosl loyal and faithful subjeel of his Sovereign, a most loyal and 
true-hearted friend of the Highland people of this County of Glengarry with- 
out distinction of class or creed." 

1 1 i- remarkable that both Rev, John Bethune and "Rev. Alexander Mac- 
donell, although as clergymen supposed to he men of peace, each helped greatly 
to form regiments whose duty it was to tight ; in each case it was to protect 
their country, each acted as chaplain to a regiment. Someone used the phrase, 
" With the Sword in one hand and the Bible in the other." As the names 
are mentioned together, it may be fcold that on one occasion a difficulty had 
arisen between Rev. J. Bethune and his congregation. A happy thought was 
to submit the matter for >ettlenient to Bishop Macdonell. He gave his decis- 
ion in favour of their clergyman, and at the same time gave the congregation 
a stern rebuke, ordering them to submit to their pastor, tin's in choice Gaelic 
tit which due submission was given. 

At the Centennial many interesting historical items were brought to light. 
At the Social Reunion at the home of Col. "D. M. Robertson, the Manor House, 
it was told that the central part of the dwelling was built during its ownership 
by Sir John Johnson over a hundred years ago. the "Rev." A. Govan gave an 
historical sketch telling of the first church built about 1787, an unpretentious 



log building, the furnishing of which was very primitive, the seats being planks 
resting on cedar blocks. Besides serving as a church, it did duty during the 
week as a school and afterward served for many purposes. It stood till quite 
recently. The present church of stone was started in 1812. There are in 
existence the minutes carefully kept; the earliest contributions were made in 
1809. The walls were built by Francis Rochileau of Kingston; his contract 
was for £205 ; all material was found him, and all unskilled labour. Owing to 
the war it was not finished till 1815. The steeple was built by Pierre Poitras 
of Montreal at a cost of £212 and £10 additional for the copper weathercock, 
gold leafed. The bell still in use has the following inscription : " 1806 
Thomas Mears & Sons of London, Fecit. The gift of Sir Alexander Macken- 
zie, to the Presbyterian Church of Glengarry, Province of Upper Canada, 
North America. The Rev. John Bethune, Minister." The total cost of the 
church was £2000 and each member of the congregation contributed £20 before 
he was entitled to a pew. In 1818 the first division of pews was made by lot, 
after setting aside a pew for the minister's family, and pews for the elders, 
one for Sir Alexander Mackenzie and for the North-West Company. 

A singular thing was that the title to the church and burying ground had 
been given to Mr. Bethune personally. By his will all his Williamstown prop- 
erty was left to his wife. She sold the glebe to Mr. David Thompson, the noted 
geographer and explorer and inadvertently the title to the church and cem- 
etery was included, but this was returned and given in 1819 to six trustees of 
the church. The Manse built for Mr. Bethune is still in good repair, and is 
owned and occupied by Mr. Farquhar Robertson of Montreal. The rooms are 
large and the house commodious. 

On Sunday afternoon there was a service in Gaelic conducted by two 
young clergymen, Rev. D. Mackenzie of Moose Creek, Ont., and Rev. J. B. 
MacLeod of Martintown, Ont. It was a surprise to the congregation to see 
two young men so thoroughly conversant with the language in which in the 
early days the services were regularly conducted, sometimes one service being 
in English and the other in Gaelic, while now: only the older generation of 
Glengarry retains a perfect knowledge of the Gaelic. The explanation was that 
both came from Prince Edward Island where Gaelic is still used extensively. 

All the old Bibles and Psalm books that were available were gathered for 
the occasion and a large percentage of those present were able to join intell- 
igently in the service and with appreciation. At all the services of the centen- 
ary celebration was observed the old time custom of singing the psalms and 
hymns without musical accompaniment, the tunes' being started by the Precen- 
tor. At the Gaelic service the clergymen acted as Precentors. Many came long 
distances to have the privilege of taking part in the service, in one case driving 
forty miles in a buggy. 

On Empire Loyalist day a beautiful service was held in the cemetery 
when the graves were decorated, particularly those of U. E. Loyalists and 
those who formed the first congregation. Mr. Donald McMaster, K.C., D.C.L. 
a member of the British Parliament, who was born and spent his early years 
in Williamstown, paid a tribute to those who had gone before and whose 
remains now lie in this sacred soil. Beautiful floral wreaths were placed on 
the graves of the three ministers buried here, Rev. Jno. Bethune, Rev. J. Mac- 
kenzie and Rev. P. Watson. Flowers were also placed on the graves of 
McDonalds, Grants, Dingwalls, Fergusons, Chisholms, Camerons, McLellans, 



9 

McKenzies, McLennans and many others. The 59th Eegt. Highland Pipe 
Band played " The Land o' the Leal/' Donald McMaster spoke eloquently of 
those who had chosen to sacrifice lands, position, wealth and comfort and had 
to leave the graves of their ancestors. He quoted the words of an American 
writer, Mr. Yantyre : " They had been obliged to accept at par the depreciated 
money and had stood in terror of the law. Finally a Test" Act had demanded 
of them an oath which they could not take, and refusal had brought upon them 
fines, disabilities, special taxation and even imprisonment and whipping. 
When the partisan struggle was the hottest the persecutors had resorted to 
proscription, outlawry and confiscation." 

John A. Macdondl K.C., of Alexandria, who has written so much on the 
history of the two counties, paid a splendid tribute to the U. E. Loyalists 
giving an interesting history of their coming, paying a tribute to Sir John 
Johnson's loyalty, quoting from the American historian, Stone — " He volun- 
tarily gave up domains in what is now the United States, larger and fairer 
than had ever belonged to a single proprietor in America, William Penn only 
excepted." Upwards of ten thousand acres of the most fertile land in the 
Mohawk Valley was the sacrifice he made for a United Empire. He also paid 
a high tribute to the Rev. John Bethune, and incidentally to Bishop Maedon- 
ellj and the utter absence of intolerance between those of different creeds, 
speaking of tbe kindly relation between them. He bad made a close study of 
Lord Dorchester's list of U. E. Loyalists, and in the fifty-one names men- 
tioned, there are thirty-three clans : of these names there are thirty-three Mac's 
panging alphabetically from fticAlpine to McPherson, ranging through 
Melniviv. MacLeod, McMartin. McNairn; those also who are not Mae's are 
Campbells, Robertsons, Stewarts, etc. 

In -peaking of ,i very extraordinary document, an address of the Orange 
body of Toronto to Bishop Macdonell, Bhewing the absence of party feeling, 
he closed with the words: Your committee have indeed shown a continuance 
of thai spirit, when they invited me, a Roman Catholic, known by everybody 
in our county to be such, to participate in your festivities, upon the centenary 
of St. Andrew's Church. I appreciate your courtesy and kindness, and 
descendants of these Loyalists, I take my leave of you with this wish — the 
besl thai I ma\ May you and your children be loyal as they." 

St. Andrew's congregation has been particularly fortunate in the character 
of it- ministers, their ability, their faithfulness, their long term of office; 
fortunate, too, in the possession of goodly elders who gave time and talent to 
the building up of the congregation, and who were the able assistants of the 
minister-: fortunate too in the possession of valuable documents, deeds, etc., 
which have been carefully preserved. Nol many congregations are so for- 
tunate, as I could mention church.- and high schools which, although they 
date hack as far or nearly as far as Williamstown, have no records further 
hack than 1860, the changes of secretaries, and the carelessness of officials, 
causing this lamentable loss. 

Williamstown is one of the few congregations which possess Communion 
tokens. They had the inscription. "Revd. John Bethune, Glengarry, 1794." 
Among the documents preserved arc the Rules and Regulations of the pro- 
prietor- of the church, of which there are fourteen, chiefly relating to the 
office bearers, of the temporalities, of the rights of pew holders, and payment 
of salaries. To this are appended eighty-two names, 10th July, 1808. Another 



10 

is a list of pew holders of whom there are twenty-eight in 1818 and a most 
remarkable pastoral letter of Rev. Jno. Bethune in 1815. There is also the 
deed of St. Andrew's church site of Martintown, April 10th, 1811. A very 
curious document in the possession of Mrs. Barbara McKenzie, Williamstown, 
is called: Black Eiver tithes, 1791, being so many bushels of wheat, with 
thirty-three names, mostly two, one being four of oats, and several giving peas. 
To this are attached little notes explanatory signed by John Bethune or simply 
J. B. as : " N. B. — Mr. McKenzie will please exempt also from this list — of the 
late 84th Eegt. provided he will promise not to swear any more or play the 
fool. — J. B." Another, a regimental discharge, to John Mackenzie, dated 24th 
December, 1783, signed: John Johnson, showing that the bearer had served 
honestly and faithfully and was entitled to the portion of land allotted to each 
private. It begins " His Majesty's Provincial Begiment called the King's 
Royal Regiment of New York, whereof Sir John Johnson, Knight and 
Baronet, is Lieut. -Colonel Commandant. " 

The contract for the erection of the present Manse is dated 1822, and is 
for the sum of £239 Halifax currency, one third to be paid in produce, 
the second third in cash and the remaining third, February, 1824. The Manse 
still stands with a large lawn in front, with spacious rooms, and it has the 
appearance of a modern house although nearly a century old. 

Another remarkable thing is the valuable gifts received at the Centenary 
Celebration; a pulpit by Rev. A. MacGillivray, D.D., of Toronto, a former 
pastor: Communion table, Col. D. M. Robertson; Elder's chairs, His Honour 
Judge James McLennan; Individual set, Henry Hunt, M. D., Toronto; Bible 
and Book of Praise, Bonar Congregation, Toronto ; Velours Curtains and Fix- 
tures, Mrs. Farquhar Robertson; One thousand dollars endowment, David 
Grant, South Branch. 

But a word must be said about the old Manse now known as the "White 
House," and its owner for some time, a most remarkable man, perhaps the 
most remarkable inhabitant of Williamstown, David Thompson, the noted 
geographer, explorer and astronomer. Born in London, England, of Welsh 
extraction, he received lessons in navigation and at the age of fourteen was 
apprenticed to the Hudson Bay Company for seven years. In 1797 he wrote 
in his journal, May 23rd. " This day left the service of the Hudson Bay Co., 
and entered that of the Company of Merchants from Canada. May God 
Almighty prosper me," Till 1812, he remained in the employment of the North 
West Company, surveyed their posts, and explored from sea to sea as he says 
when at the mouth of the Columbia River. In 1816, he was employed by the 
British Government to survey the boundary line between the United States 
and Canada from Maine to the Lake of the Woods. The maps made by him 
still govern. In some respects he was indeed remarkable for those days, as 
he never used alcoholic liquors, and while other posts were bar-rooms of the 
lowest type no liquor was allowed in any post under his charge. Also to the 
Roman Catholic Frenchmen in his charge, he often read chapters of the Old 
and the New Testaments with explanations, they listening attentively. In 
an article in the Geographical Journal by Mr. J. B. Tyrrell, F.G.S., called 
" David Thompson the Great Geographer," a fine tribute is paid to him : 
" His work was detailed and exact. It has been my fortune to follow Thomp- 
son's course for thousands of miles, and to take observations in the same places, 
where he took them, and it is impossible for me to speak too highly of the 



11 

excellence of these surveys and observations. Both morally and scientifically 
he was a man of the very highest type. As a discoverer and explorer he stands 
in the highest rank/' 

Another noted man, if not a resident, made at least a visit to Williams- 
town — Lord Selkirk, that philanthropic nobleman who did so much to help 
his countrymen with an unstinted hand, and who met with so much opposition 
from the elements, fire and frost and famine, freshets and locusts, and still 
more from the North West Company, and who retired brokenhearted from 
the struggle. But many of the descendants of his settlers now reap the fruits 
of his toil, in prosperous and happy homes in Manitoba. In his diary in 1803, 
he. says, reaching Williamstown : " I went to see the Presbyterian minister- 
Eev. John Bethune, and stayed with him. He gave me an account of the 
Highland settlement, and referred to the good people who came out from the 
old country." 

A word, indeed, a good many words should be said of the cemetery. 
Never lias it been my lot to see in a small village the resting place of the dead 
kept in such beautiful order. On my inquiry — How do you do this? the 
answer was, Oh! there is an endowment. Think of it, ye who leave those 
sacred spots without care, given over to briars and weeds, an endowment of 
$3,000, of which $2,000 wag given by Mrs (J rant who gove liberally for two 
scholarships for four years for the High School. 

And thai brings as to the histor) of the High School, also a remarkable 
one, and thai has to me a personal interest. As there are only two high 
schools in the county. Williamstown and Alexandria, they have a large con- 
Btitliency from which to draw pupil-. Of what benefit the scholarship 
founded by R. R. McLennan M.P. is, 1 happen to know that one widow had 
two of her children who gained tin- scholarship educated so as to enter Queen's 
University and obtain the degree of B.A. And the good example set by the 
'Laird.'* as he w&8 called, has been followed by others, Margaret Granl giving 
two scholarships of the value of $400 and $360 respectively. That of Laird 
McLennan was for $440. Another scholarship, or bursary as they are called 
in Scotland, was given by Marion Stewarl McDonald. Can any other village 
High School tell of such generosity as there are now four scholarships. Men's 
good (\d'i\> do live after tiirin. How many in after years will bless the memory 
of these founder- of scholarships which will help them in the pursuit of educa- 
tion, which reminds me of the Snell Scholarships in Scotland founded 300 
years ago, and in this year is to he unveiled a monument to it- founder. In a 
little village is a monnmenl t<» the old blacksmith. Andrew Snell, whose son 
John Snell saved the life of Charles Stewart, after the battle of Worcester, 
and on hi- restoration to the throne advanced bis preserver, who left a large 
sum of money to found scholarships for his countrymen. A public spirited 
man now living in Ayr hunted up the whole history, circulars were sent to 
those who had gained the scholarships or their descendants living in different 
continent-. Money wras given, a site, an architeel gave the plan and in Septem- 
ber, UN I. the monumenl was to have been unveiled, but the war prevented, 
and now after four years the good ^^a] will be commemorated and others 
incited to similar generosity. 

Of my personal recollections of Williamstown. as it was, over forty years 
ago, I have said nothing, but I remember the two square pews in the front of 
the church for the use of the elders, the confusion of names, to distinguish 
one Macdonald from the other. At the Post Office most bewildering mistakes 



12 

might occur, except that many of the odd descriptive names were known. 
Sheriff McMartin was always called " The Sheriff " and all his family called 
thus " Maggie the Sheriff;" " Jimmy tta Sheriff;" and so on. Mrs. McDonald 
was called " The widow Nellie" and her son " Angus the widow." Why 
should Alexander Grant be known as Alick Jim Roy? Two of the McMartins 
were "Mac on the Mill " and ei Curly Mac." A MacDonald was always called 
" Black Angus," and his daughter " Betsey Black Angus." The son of Colonel 
Angus Macdonell was called " Alex. Colonel Angus/' and another woman was 
called "Betsey Black Angus." Among other names were " Sandy Ocean " 
and Sandy Sank, Johnnie Bush and Archie Squire. T remember a mistake I 
made which caused a laugh at my expense. There being a James Macdonald 
and a John Macdonald each of whom had a daughter Annie, to distinguish 
them one was called Annie John the other Annie James. Hearing the name, 
on being introduced, I called her Miss John.